Wednesday, May 9, 2012

PAPER OR PLASTIC?


Last week I attended Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, then the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA. Both events were fabulous. I met many readers, some of whom were very enthusiastic about my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and couldn’t wait for the next one in the series to come out. Others hadn’t read either but decided after hearing me speak at Malice or meeting me at the Festival, to give my books a try.

One of the most frequently asked questions I received at both events was, “Are your books available as e-books?” (Yes, they are.)

I’ve noticed in the short space of a year between the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, and Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series, that ebook sales of my titles are far outpacing the trade paperbacks. More and more people are moving from physical books to e-readers.

There’s much to love about e-readers. You can carry around a lot of books with you at one time. If you finish a book while you’re traveling, you can easily read another, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from a bookstore. I like that I can increase the font size of the words on the page, especially when I’m tired. The larger the print, the longer I can read without eye strain.

However, for those of us who love books, there’s something about holding a new book in our hands that an e-reader can’t satisfy. I wonder, what our homes will be like five, ten, or twenty years from now. Will we no longer have bookcases filled with volumes of our favorite titles? Will the Kindle and the Nook put bookcase manufacturers out of business? I love my bookcases filled with books. They take up space in just about every room of my house.

I stopped writing this for a few minutes and walked around my house, imagining each room without its bookcases. I’d certainly gain a lot of space if all those books resided in an e-reader instead of on physical shelves. I guess I’d have plenty of room to expand my teapot collection or start collecting something else. I just can’t imagine living without being surrounded by books.

What about the rest of you? Paper or plastic?

Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been nominated for a Book of the Year Award by ForeWords ReviewsDeath by Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series, was released in January. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.

27 comments:

Shannon Baker said...

I am not a collector of anything. I keep very few books, just those for research, books about writing, and books written by fiends. I give away and resell everything I'm not using, including books. I hate extra stuff in my house. But I love my Kindle because I get to keep all my books without having to dust them.

Janet C said...

Paper & plastic. I can't do without either one. My Kindle is always in my purse, and I love the range of books I can get on it. But nothing beats walking into a bookstore and finding unexpected treasures.

Robin Allen said...

Paper!

jenny milchman said...

Paper, paper, paper. I love the sight of thousands of dusty-yet-vivid books, each one a memory, or an enticement to pick up. I love the physical, tactile, olfactory experience of a book. I love bookstores and libraries. And I love an author's scrawl across a page.

However, I willingly admit that I am a person who forgoes convenience, even a better price, in favor of experience. I'll get lost instead of using a GPS. Who knows what I might see? There's always someone to ask for directions.

And the person I meet in those few exchanged words, that brief human interaction, is part of what I love about life--and part of the reason I read.

DirtyMartini said...

Oh my...the thought of bookcase manufacturers going out of business, and no bookcases in the house is too scary for me this early in the morning. I have to say I'm a bit "old school" and prefer traditional paper, but I do believe books should be available in both formats ideally...
Did I just give the safe answer? Most likely...
Cheers,
Alan.

Sheila Webster Boneham said...

Both! I still love the feel and smell and look of books, but definitely like the convenience of ebooks, especially when I'm traveling.

Barry Ergang said...

Like Jenny, I like the physical experience of a book. But in part because I'm selling my home and will be moving to smaller quarters, I've been selling off many of the physical books I've acquired over many years. I've come to realize that we are at best in this life only temporary custodians of things, so it's time to get rid of some of those things.

Not all. There are certain physical books and authors I won't part with, even though they're available in e-book editions.

I recently replaced an Aluratek Libre Pro e-reader, which I bought a couple of years ago, with an iPad. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly comfortable I became with both devices, and I like the fact that I can store a substantial library on these things. Where space is at a premium, you can always burn copies of e-books you want to save to CDs or DVDs, which take up no room--or keep them in your "clouds."

Peg Brantley said...

Both!

I love the convenience and consistency of electricity, but I have candles all over my house.

Lois Winston said...

Thank you all for weighing in. Apropos to this post, I was sent an interesting link just now about tablet and e-reader sales, along with stats that break down who's reading how and on what:
http://macdailynews.com/2012/05/08/the-state-of-e-books-and-e-readers-in-the-u-s-a/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wordpress%2FxhfA+%28MacDailyNews%29

(You might have to do a cut/paste if the link doesn't work.)

Elizabeth said...

For me, paper. I have walls full of books, old and new. That was the way at my house growing up too. It was my job once a year to empty all the shelves, dust them and dust the books if needed and put everything back. Many of those books have become my books. I loved it. Can't say I do that nowadays though.

I have one daughter who has downloaded some books onto her iPad but books are still on her request lists. Another daughter bought a NOOK so she could download books she normally would have got from the library...not sure if she is using the library or what to get them. She has a germ phobia and was getting disgusted with the condition books were arriving in. I think that has something to do with her choice. She also requests many books and bookstore stops are frequent.

My son still is seen with a book in his hand all the time. I know he read newspapers and magazines on his iPhone, not sure about books.

Liz R said...

Paper

The latest Publishers Lunch has an article "Trade Sales Up 22% In February, While eBook Sales Flatten Out"

The statistics are interesting.

eBooks are definitely here to stay, but books are still popular.

Alan Orloff said...

Put me down for paper. Yes, I own a Kindle, and it is convenient, but I seem to get more immersed in the books I read on paper.

Shelley said...

I have books on iphone and ipad but mostly I read hardcopy. the electronics come in handy for me when I'm stuck in a waiting room or waiting to pick people up from the train.
I also have several shelves of memoirs of 19th Century NY actors. They haven't been converted to digital. Probably never will be. They make me sneeze, but I feel a real connection with that era of our history that I wouldn't on microfiche, or ereader. that's just me.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Paper! I love print books. I have yet to read any ebooks. I don't have an e-reader of any kind although one day I probably will. I'll fight it as long as I can.

Anonymous said...

Definitely, PAPER!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't mind that ebooks are available too for those who read no other way, but I strongly believe ebooks should cost the same so that the paper option never dies and the future writer gets enough to live on.
--Brenda

Anonymous said...

I must add that I do enjoy access to out of copyright books available electronically that enhance the numbers of old books one has a chance to read without traveling to far distant libraries. I don't forsee ever spending much money on ebooks except in those cases where the book is not available in paper & not going to be. Thanks to CreateSpace, that shouldn't be much of a problem.
Brenda

Susanne Alleyn said...

Both--with a sharp delineation between the two. Ebooks for entertainment reading, paper for work--i.e. historical research. It's always going to be easier to flip through a paper book to find the right material than to page through an ebook, even with a search function.

But for a book I'm reading for pleasure that I read from start to finish--ebooks all the way. I'm delighted to be rid of all the ratty old Agatha Christie pocket books bought at the library bag sales, massive novels whose weight breaks my wrists, and the cheap paperback editions of Dickens with the microscopic typefaces!

gmalli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G.M. Malliet said...

The opposite of Susanne. I have (very rarely) used my iPad to read non-fiction books and I do like the bookmarking and notation facilities. But for fiction, paper every time. The more ratty my Agatha Christies get, the more I like them.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for the wonderful discussion, everyone. I hope we always have a choice, but I do foresee a time in the future where more and more books will be available only in electronic format. Or if you want paper, you'll pay a premium for it and have few options for where to obtain it. Sad, really.

jenny milchman said...

Alan Orloff's comment about getting more immersed in paper is very topical and interesting. There is a growing body of research that talks about effects on cognition, memory, and retention when we read digitally. My kids' school has just begun to consider the question of how much of a role tech should play in school. Critical thinking and deep engagement seems to be higher when reading on paper--and this seems to me to have far-ranging effects on what we emphasize with our kids.

Irene said...

Recently I put up a book for Kindle though my first two books were paper.
I own a Kindle but have never used it.
So, I've never seen what my book looks like, though I heard that it did not transfer well to the electronic viewing because somewhere along the way, the formatting got skewed.
Give me a paper book any time. Hey, I don't even like to be tied to the rest of the world with a cell phone. Do we really need to be leashed 24/7? Guess I am just old-fashioned to the bone.

Liese said...

I just heard Steve Berry speak. Seventy percent (70%) of his sales are digital. I think that says something about where the industry is going. There are some advantages to writers in the digital age--you don't have to fight for shelf space in the stores, readers don't have to go/drive anywhere to buy your book, they can purchase books privately they might not want to do publicly (and I'm not talking X-rated. Some might not feel right buying a young adult book). Still, there is also holding the copy in your hand--not to mention being told you have to turn off your device just as you get to the good part!

Anne W. said...

I keep almost all my books, have thousands by now. Too many. But I love holding a book in my hand, and I re-read many of them. But for travel, there's nothing like an e-reader. I used to have to tote six books for a two week trip. My husband and I would trade off as we finished. Now I just slide in the e-reader and have more room for clothes. I had to get him one also, since he ran out on the last trip and I had none to trade.

Cindy Sample said...

Great post and discussion, Lois. I also found that my sales went from 8 to 1 in favor of paperback to the reverse in 2011. That being said I totally agree with Alan's comment. I've purchased tons of books for my Kindle but I never become one with the book like I do with a paper or hardback version. I find I'm now going back to a paper copy for my favorite authors. Complete with my usual chocolate coated fingerprints!

Dru said...

Both. Paper when I'm home and plastic on my commute to work and when I travel.

Lois Winston said...

Again, thank you all for stopping by to comment. This has been a very engaging discussion.